History of Moo-La by Joyce Whitis
The story of a life-size cow, model Z2283N, molded of fiberglass and colored black and white, is a parallel to the story of the fantastic growth of the dairy industry in Erath County, Texas. Although dairying in our county has been important since the ‘40’s, it is only since the completion of the statue project, known as Moo-la, that this industry has shown abounding healthy growth.
The placing of the model cow on the courthouse square was approved by the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce as well as the County Commissioner’s Court, headed by Judge L.L. Martin. Money to purchase the cow and to complete her installation was donated by many local businesses as well as private persons and banks.
In the very early morning of September 23,1972, Kenneth Evatt, local dairy barn contractor, took the cow to downtown Stephenville and placed her on the prepared pedestal. She was covered over with black plastic and later that day unveiled by County Judge Martin to begin and all-day party featuring free ice cream for everyone. A country western band played, short speeches were given in praise of the growth of the dairy industry and there were drawings for prizes of dairy foods.
Several radio stations and newspapers in the area carried the story of Moo-la that day as well as later.
In the fall of 1972 the dairy industry brought $10,000,000 yearly to the economy and Moo-la was called the “$10,000,000 Cow”. A sign was placed on each side of the pedestal holding Moo-la. One side said, “This is Dairy Country” and the other side read “Moo-la $10,000,000 Cow”. Her fame quickly spread throughout the nation, and even the world, with write-ups in many trade magazines. She brought visitors to town from places around the world. Probably the best international publicity came from Hoard’s Dairyman, the “Bible” of the nation’s dairy industry. In 1973 several Frenchmen who had read about Moo-la in a French publication, visited Stephenville. Many West Coast dairymen moved to our area, as well as a dozen or so dairymen from Holland. The dairies brought with them veterinarians, equipment suppliers, testers, lot cleaners, hoof trimmers, milk haulers, truck, car, and tractor dealerships. In fact, it was difficult to find any business in this area that was not dependent to some extent on the dairy industry.
Sometime in the mid-80’s Erath County became the number one milk producing county in the state and number 10 in the nation. While many counties around Erath and on toward the west suffered from a slowed economy, Erath continued in prosperity, a situation directly linked to the production of milk. The dramatic increase from the past 20 years was due largely to the symbol of a dairy cow on our square which proclaims to the world that we appreciate what the dairy industry does for our area.
For many people, the cow on the square is a friendly sign in the town. She reflects our agrarian heritage and a country image that most Texans have no desire to shake.
A special thanks to Joyce Whitis for putting together this history of Moo-la.
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